How Each Chelsea Manager Under Roman Abramovich Fared in Their First Two Games

​Frank Lampard is just two games into his tenure as Chelsea manager, but there have been no shortage of critics who believe the Blues are doomed.

By losing his first two games in charge, Lampard has endured the worst start out of any permanent manager in the Roman Abramovich era, but does that really mean anything? There have been plenty of bosses before him who have started well, but faded off quicker than you can imagine.

Here’s how every permanent Chelsea manager got on in the early stages of their tenure, and what it actually meant for them going forward.

Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho

First Two Results

Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United

Birmingham City 0-1 Chelsea​

Following the departure of Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2004 with huge expectations. After all, this was the man who had just stunned Europe to win the ​Champions League with Porto.

His ​Chelsea tenure began with an unconvincing 1-0 win over ​Manchester United, who dominated possession even without most of their star players. He followed that up by an equally uninspiring 1-0 win over ​Birmingham City, but two wins from two papered over the cracks.

They weren’t great to start with, but Mourinho’s Chelsea went on to become one of the finest sides in ​Premier League history. It’s not about how well you start, but how well you end.

Avram Grant

Avram Grant

First Two Results

Manchester United 2-0 Chelsea

Hull City 0-4 Chelsea​

What is it with Chelsea managers beginning their tenure against United? This time it was Avram Grant at the helm, and he fell to a 2-0 defeat in 2007.

The Blues looked good in stages, but struggled to deal with United’s numerical advantage after John Obi Mikel was sent off in the first half. Chelsea followed that up with a convincing 4-0 win over ​Hull City in the Carling Cup, but that result was to be expected from the Blues at the time.

Like Mourinho, Grant’s unimpressive start to life at Chelsea didn’t hold him back, as they went on to finish second in the Premier League, as well as reaching the Champions League final. I’d imagine Chelsea fans would bite your hand off for that this season.

Luiz Felipe Scolari

Chelsea's Manager Brazilian Luiz Felipe

First Two Results

Chelsea 4-0 Portsmouth

Wigan Athletic 0-1 Chelsea​

Somewhat surprisingly, Chelsea opted to part ways with Grant at the end of the 2007/08 season, bringing in legendary Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari as his replacement.

His time at Stamford Bridge began with an emphatic 4-0 win over Portsmouth, with Scolari’s desire for attacking football clear for all to see. Their form didn’t exactly carry over to their 1-0 win over ​Wigan Athletic, but it was two wins from two.

Scolari’s Chelsea dominated the opening few months of the Premier League, before things ultimately fell apart in December. They drew far too many games, and it cost Scolari his job in February 2009. Clearly, a good start means nothing.

Carlo Ancelotti

Chelsea's Italian manager Carlo Ancelott

First Two Results

Chelsea 2-2 Manchester United (Chelsea win 4-1 on penalties)

Chelsea 2-1 Hull City

After both Ray Wilkins and Guus Hiddink had enjoyed temporary spells in charge, Carlo Ancelotti was brought in in 2009 to try bring attacking flair back to the Bridge.

Yet again against United, Chelsea fought to a victory in the Community Shield, before beginning Ancelotti’s Premier League career with a 2-1 win over Hull City. They were fantastic in attack, which became the pattern of the entire season.

Ancelotti’s Chelsea stormed to the league and FA Cup double, shattering goalscoring records in the process. Their performances in his opening two fixtures were perfect examples of what to expect from the Blues.

Andre Villas-Boas

Andre Villas-Boas,Harry Redknapp

First Two Results

Stoke City 0-0 Chelsea

Chelsea 2-1 West Bromwich Albion​

Touted as the next Mourinho, Andre Villas-Boas was the next permanent manager given the chance to strut his stuff at the Bridge in the 2011/12 campaign.

Chelsea underwhelmed in their opening fixture, a 0-0 draw with ​Stoke City, and they were hardly much better when they beat ​West Bromwich Albion 2-1 next time out. It took just two matches to realise that something wasn’t right here.

Their form barely improved as the season went on so, with Chelsea facing elimination from the Champions League, Villas-Boas was sacked in March 2012. Probably a good decision from Chelsea, who went on to achieve European glory without him.

Roberto Di Matteo


First Two Results

Chelsea 2-3 Manchester City

Wigan Athletic 0-2 Chelsea 

After guiding Chelsea to Champions League success as interim boss, Roberto Di Matteo’s first match as permanent manager ended in a 3-2 defeat to ​Manchester City in the Community Shield.

The Blues put up a good fight but simply didn’t have enough about them to win, but they soon bounced back with a 2-0 win over Wigan, in what was a certain ​Eden Hazard’s debut for Chelsea.

The positivity didn’t last long as Chelsea found themselves falling down the league table, leading to Di Matteo’s departure in November 2012. 

Jose Mourinho


First Two Results

Chelsea 2-0 Hull City

Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa​

Mourinho’s return to the Bridge started with a comfortable 2-0 win over Hull, in which the Blues were clearly the stronger side. They weren’t as convincing in the 2-1 win over ​Aston Villa, but the mood at the club was as positive as ever before.

With four games to go, Mourinho’s Chelsea were actually top of the Premier League, but a bitterly disappointing defeat to Sunderland saw them eventually drop down to third.

It was a good season from the Blues, who were more than competitive all year. Things could have been a little better, but they could have been a whole lot worse.

Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte

First Two Results

Chelsea 2-1 West Ham United

Watford 1-2 Chelsea​

After Mourinho’s second departure from the club, it was the turn of Antonio Conte. In his first game – a 2-1 win over ​West Ham United – Chelsea were uninspiring in attack and vulnerable in defence, and that continued into the 2-1 win over ​Watford shortly after.

Something didn’t seem right with Conte’s side, and he soon transitioned to the 3-4-3 formation. It was a stroke of genius by Conte, who turned Chelsea into a dominant force en route to lifting the Premier League title.

It was an inauspicious start to life in England for the Italian, but one slight change saw everything change in an instant.

Maurizio Sarri

Maurizio Sarri

First Two Results

Chelsea 0-2 Manchester City

Huddersfield Town 0-3 Chelsea​

It was out with one Italian and in with another when Maurizio Sarri joined Chelsea in 2018. Having constructed a free-flowing, attractive style of play, there were high hopes for the former ​Napoli man.

They got off to a poor start with a 2-0 loss to Manchester City in the Community Shield, but bounced back with a 3-0 win against ​Huddersfield Town. Things looked good for the Blues, who enjoyed a lengthy unbeaten streak, before things came crashing down.

The mood completely turned at the Bridge, and many fans were calling for Sarri’s head for months. He was eventually sacked at the end of the season after guiding Chelsea to third.

Frank Lampard


First Two Results

Manchester United 4-0 Chelsea

Liverpool 2-2 Chelsea (Liverpool win 5-4 on penalties)

So, what conclusions can we draw from Lampard’s start to life back at Chelsea? During their first two games, the Blues have been relatively impressive, but clearly lacked a certain je ne sais quoi to take them to the next level.

On paper, this was the worst start to any manager’s tenure at the club under Abramovich, but history has shown us that Chelsea often bounce back. Mourinho, Grant and Conte all got off to slow starts, before enjoying relative success with Chelsea, and it looks like Lampard will do the same.

When managers start well, they tend to end up doing badly. However, when they start off poorly, they usually turn good pretty quickly. So, with that completely scientific and factual logic, history says Lampard will do well. It’s just a case of waiting for the right results to come.


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